Thursday, June 11, 2009

Lazy, El Cheapo, Bachelor Meatballs in Sauce you do not cook love meatballs, but hate the idea of making sauce(Your mother always told you never to use bottled sauce!!! or she would haunt you to your grave.  Why betray her and your Italian heritage...even if you are not Italian.  Maybe you have dated an Italian...that is close enough.),  then poaching the meatballs in the sauce...or frying or baking them if that is your family tradition, the expense of buying Parmesan or Romano, cleaning the burnt sauce and the bottom half of the meatballs off the pan when you have not been watching the temperature. You are not going to fool your mother with this!  But you can use it for a weeknight meal, a party dish or pot luck.

1 1/2 pounds of ground beef

1 1/2 cups bread crumbs (I use chopped bread including whole wheat rolls, old croutons, leftover garlic bread, etc. for this if the cupboard is bare.  Be careful of salt because some pre-made products can be salted already.)

2 eggs  This will make cast iron meatballs.  you won't damage them serving or getting them out of the pan, serving with toothpicks for a party, etc.  For a more tender and delicate meatball, add more bread and use only one egg.

salt  Use a little more than you would normally use because I do not include the cheese in this recipe(part of the cheap moniker).

Ground pepper

Red pepper flakes

5 finely minced or crushed garlic cloves.  (Mash the cloves on a counter or a cutting board with the side of a broad knife or a thick bottomed glass, either alone or mixed with a bit of salt till it becomes a paste.)  Substitute garlic powder if you find it more in your ability range.

1/2 cup water or wine(The wine is not me, but it might charm you. Besides, if you are a bachelor, there are probably a few open bottles hanging around.)

Chopped parsley, or if the cupboard is bare of this too, use a little Italian seasoning.

Mix all together in a bowl with your  wet or oiled hands.(see below)

Roll egg sized clumps of the meat mixture between your palms to make about 2 inch meatballs.  If you are squeamish about a mess on your hands, dampen or oil your hands before doing this.  Keep a bowl of cold water beside your work area for this.

Grease or spray a small baking pan, just large enough to hold the balls with a quarter inch or less to spare between each of them.  If you are in the habit of leaving half finished food in the pan and throwing it into the fridge, use a glass pan.  Acidy tomato products can eat right through your metal pans in time.  You can taste the metal as well.  For the same reason, do not store open cans of tomato products in the refrigerator. Take it out of the can and put it in plastic, ceramic or glass containers.  Also cover with plastic instead of foil for storage.  If you are really lazy, use a covered casserole or your large cook pot with a cover.  The temperature is fairly low, and stove-top pans do not usually suffer if the temperature stays in the 300s or less.

You may continue with the raw meatballs or slide the pan into the oven for twenty minutes before adding the sauce.

Pour over the meatballs:

One can of crushed tomatoes, plus a little water from rinsing the can.  Or vodka...(very good) and you probably have this hanging around too.  If you do use vodka, stir in a little cream before you cannot use artificial creamer, but cream cheese, sour cream, old onion dip etc. all work.

A finely chopped onion,

2 minced garlic cloves,

1T basil,

1 1/2 T oregano,



2 bay leaves.

Make sure the sauce is down between the meatballs, separating them so they do not join into a big bumpy meatloaf.  Cover with foil and bake in a 375 oven, reducing the temperature to 325 after about 20 minutes, and continue to cook for another 40 minutes to an hour.  If you are not an actual lazy bachelor, you might consider scraping the sauce away from the sides of the pan once or twice in this time, but it will really be OK if you don't.

If I have them, it is nice to thinly slice and spread the top of the sauce with green or red peppers.  Use up the cut one in a baggie in the refrigerator.

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